Wednesday, December 23, 2009

THE HELP - Kathryn Stockett

For the love of Thor, get this book. Read it in your book groups. Discuss it. Ruminate. Journal about it. I finished it days ago and could not write this review because I keep thinking about it.

Set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, all of the maids ("colored" or "nigra") wait on white women during their bridge games, parent the family's children, scrub the house, cook the meals, and say, "Yes Ma'am" and count the silver. She will use a separate bathroom, and she cannot eat with the family. If one is fired for backtalk or thievery, the head of Jackson society, Miss Hilly, will ensure that woman will never be employed in that town again.

Miss Skeeter, daughter of a cotton grower and his former-debutante wife, has bigger plans than the diamond on the finger and kids in the nursery. She wants to be a writer. Through her determination, she gets to talk to a New York agent. When told to come up with something no one talks about, Skeeter realizes that the relationship between the maids and their employers is a sharp subject. The problem is that no one wants to talk for fear of what Miss Hilly, one of Skeeter's best friends, will do if she finds out.

Minny and Aibileen are wonderful characters as the first maids to speak of their experiences to Skeeter. However, even with Skeeter's kindness during this racially-wrought period (Kennedy forcing the governor to allow a black student into "Ole Miss," the rise before Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech), I wonder of the irony of her motives. She is using black women to get ahead. I wonder at the author's motives - a white woman writing in black vernacular.

The book made me think and analyze and create opinions. What could be more delicious?

4.3 out of 5.0 So-Co Teas.


Pamala Knight said...

I just ordered this book and can't wait to read it. Thanks for the review Kristin. I'll pop back out once I'm done.

Rana said...

Thanks for your review. I have seen this title around and was wondering what the story was about. I'm going to put this on hold at the library.

Alison (Alison's Book Marks) said...

GREAT review! I feel the same exact way you do. The Help is a must-read, and is one of the first books I think of when someone asks me for a recommendation.

Cheryl said...

Just picked it up and am on page 2 :)

Cheryl said...

Finished it--loved it!


Was anyone else waiting for way, way worse things to happen in this book? Granted, some terrible things happened to periphery characters, but it seems like the main characters got through mostly unscathed. I'm glad they did, but I also felt it was a little unrealistic. Still, I've been recommending this one to everyone.